A quick check in post…
I wanted to write to check in and to let you all know what I’ve been up to. I do so much reading about what you are up to through your blog posts I thought it’s about time I fill you in on what I’ve been working on. Probably the main project I’ve been working on since the beginning of the semester is launching a SeeSaw pilot in the elementary school. I’m happy to say that so far it is been well received.
A little bit of the backstory. At my school blogs have historically been in use as a place for students to reflect and post work. In the lower elementary Blogger has been utilized and then in middle and upper elementary WordPress the platform of choice. Students have used various apps as intermediaries to aid in posting. At first this was seen as a way to make things easier. But as time has passed certain apps are no longer supported and new ones have been sought out as replacements. Often the new app has some but not all features of the original app an therefore another app must be added to the mix… which often involves creating another account somewhere else. Over time what was once a process used for simplicity has turned into an extremely complicated process. Over the course of the semester I witnessed and heard deep levels of frustration with the process from both students, teachers, and parents.
But before we jumped in to try something new I sought to clarify what we were using blogs for in the first place. I did a lot of talking (and even more listening) with elementary leadership, teachers, and students. I pulled page views reports for random students blogs. I also talked with parents about how much they visited their child’s blogs whenever I had a parent presentation. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t presenting what I thought people needed, but rather providing people with a solution aimed at addressing a need they had expressed. After many conversations we worked together to clarify our intentions and to determine what a successful pilot would look like. To be honest people were so frustrated with the current situation I think it would have been easy to get people on board. But as we moved ahead I didn’t want to fall into the trap of losing focus on why we were using SeeSaw just because the process was easier than using blogs. Since this is a pilot it will be up to the teachers to determine if this is the direction they wish to go.
A snapshot of a SeeSaw post. The student added 2:19 of audio commentary to this post.
At the beginning of the pilot I had to gather support from four areas: Leadership, IT, Teachers, Students. Ineeded the support of leadership in going forward with the pilot as well as helping to clarify why we were using a learning journal/e-portfolio in the first place. I also needed financial support as I wanted to go with the premium version of SeeSaw as it provided many aspects/features that I thought would increase the likelihood for success. I needed support of IT as they would be the ones syncing SeeSaw with our Veracross students information system using a tool called Clever. This would allow all our SeeSaw classes to be populated automatically based on enrollment information in Veracross. If the pilot is successful it will also allow all of our student information to follow students from year to year. (We can also gather stats on usage etc.)
A student using SeeSaw to capture himself reading a book.
The next area I needed buy in from was the teachers. I asked year level coordinators to see if anyone on their team was keen to give SeeSaw a go. We got at least one volunteer from each year level! With these three areas of support inline we launched the initial pilot. I met with each teacher to do a brief initial training and then scheduled a time to come in and launch SeeSaw with their students. I initially spent about an hour with the students exploring what SeeSaw was and how we could use it. They were all over it! They loved being able to see and comment on each others work. I followed up this initial lesson with a lesson on posting and commenting (and liking) using posts the students had made.
After all the initial pilot classes where up and running word started to spread and teachers started asking if they too could join the pilot. Exciting! The only problem is that I need to ask for more money as you pay per student. Luckily my school is very supportive (both leadership & IT) and we were given the green light to add more classes. I didn’t want to rush into things so I put off the second wave until the first wave teachers and I could meet a couple times to share what we were learning and address any potential sticky spots.
After about a month we launched another 1-2 classes per year level. In addition we opened the parent access feature with the first round of pilot classes. I left it up to the teachers to determine when they felt comfortable enough with SeeSaw to open to parents. We also wanted time to test the parent features so that we could support parents with whatever questions they may have.
Support… this is one thing that weighed in heavily in choosing SeeSaw. SeeSaw has created a rich resource content base. They have quite a few how-to videos and well as an extensive video library.
SeeSaw resource center.
SeeSaw has an extensive selection of PD in Your PJ’s webinars that are recorded so you can watch when and where you have time. There is also a SeeSaw Teachers FB Group where teachers share ideas and ask questions. In addition SeeSaw has a Twitter Chat and a pretty active group of teachers tweeting about SeeSaw. This gives teachers plenty of places to find support, have questions answers, and find innovative and authentic ways to utilize SeeSaw with their students.
I know some of you are doing learning journals/e-portfolios for your final project and I would love to hear how it’s going for you!
In fact I’m sure everyone would love and update… so please chime in with a quick update in the comments.